One definition of anxiety is that it the feeling of impending trouble or danger. The feelings of worry or fear that arise from anxiety will sometimes include chest pains, dizziness and nausea.|
There are a number of different components that make up the complex cognitive response called anxiety. They include an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, and an increase in blood flow to major muscles. The trigger to anxiety is usually the perceptive of an external threat -- a threat to one's physical well-being, or a threat to one's circumstances, such as the possibility of losing one's job. The nausea that many experience is caused by a reduction in the amount of blood that the stomach and other digestive organs receive. The purpose behind these physiological reactions is to prepare the person to either fight or flee.
While anxiety might seem to be an annoyance, or worse, it is an important part of a person. Its purpose is ensure the person's survival. Once a threat is detected, anxiety will drive a person to either escape the situation, or to prepare to fight against it. Two areas of the brain, the amygdala and the hippocampus, seem to be responsible for the anxiety reaction. Test subjects were placed in devices that measured blood flow in their brains. When exposed to an unpleasant odor or taste, which represented the threat, blood flow increased to the amygdala.
While anxiety may have been designed to be a good thing, too much of it can be detrimental. In extreme cases, people may have what is known as an anxiety disorder. There may not be any real threat around, people with an anxiety disorder may still feel threatened or terrified. In some cases, the anxiety is referred to as free-floating, where nearly everything is subconsciously perceived to be a threat. Other times, the disorder manifests itself as a phobia. A phobia is an abnormal, unjustifiable fear, of a certain object or scenario. Most sufferers of phobias have vivid and powerful imaginations, and they also realize that their fears are irrational.
Extreme forms of anxiety disorders will involve panic attacks. These attacks will often involve feelings of dread or imminent danger or health crisis. Sufferers might experience dizziness, shortness of breath and chest tightness or even chest pain. Such chest pain can easily be mistaken for a heart attack which will accentuate the feelings of panic and dread. The peak normally will be reached within ten minutes of the attack starting, but might continue for hours. One way to provide temporary relief is to be distracted in a pleasant way. Such distraction will often temporarily break the panic/chest pains/increased panic cycle.
Less extreme anxiety disorders are not uncommon and are normally not limited to one particular gender. One common form of anxiety disorder is obsessive compulsive behavior, where a person feels driven to perform a certain activity. Failing to do that particular activity will often trigger off feelings of anxiety. Once they perform the activity, the anxiety disappears. The behaviors in question can be something as innocuous as repeatedly checking that one's door is locked, or that the stove and oven are turned off.
Anxiety problems can be solved without requiring medical assistance. While you should consult with a doctor if the symptoms are frequent or debilitating, people have found relief through self-help techniques such as relaxation or meditation.